Friday, 25 January 2008

Cloverfield: An Uneasy Biche writes..

Like most people who piddle away their lives on the internet, and whose endless search for gossip cannot be saited by UK websites, I was getting mildly excited about the release of Cloverfield.
For those who have been hiding under rocks/not online (same difference) It concerns New York under monster attack in an action movie stylee, but from the perspective of some ordinary New Yorkers with videocameras who are having a party... what is it? What will happen? Will they escape the city? Bravo JJ Abrams again etc..

Then last night I caught The Falling Man on More 4. For those who haven't seen it, it is, for all the usual amount of naff philosophising and talking heads, an ultimately heartbreaking documentary, although this is largely down to the unforgettable footage.
It is basically about all the people who jumped from the WTC on 9/11; people who either took control of their lives or committed the 'sin' of suicide, depending who you ask. Whatever one calls their actions, the resulting photos and footage, which were generally considered the most shocking of the day, were pretty much omitted from all coverage in a remarkable act of mass censorship. Even when they were pubished in a few outlets the public complained in such great numbers they were not reprinted for a very long time.
Indeed the whole issue was so delicate that when a journalist called the NY City Morgue to enquire how many deaths from jumping they had, the mortician replied that 'there had been no jumpers. People were sucked out the buildings by the wind but no one jumped.'

Anyway, as the documentary focussed on journalists who were trying to identify the one man in the photo above, one individual out of the thousands who died, it made me think about Cloverfield and it's narrative. On one hand, it is similar to the documentary as it personalises a tragedy to a small group of people affected by it. However it is also monster action movie, so it has equal amounts in common with Austin Powers' 'does anyone think of the Henchmen's family?' genre parody.

And that's cool..I'm not a Daily Mail reader, I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing Cloverfield, in fact I probably will go see it. But whereas before I would just get into the spirit of it and have a good couple of hours, now I think I would feel decidedly uneasy. We have seen New Yorkers die as their city is attacked for real. Even if it is a flipping reptile and not two planes, it's still rather close to the bone given the way it is filmed and the New Yorker's POV (although that is obviously the point.)

It just seems that time and perspective are funny things...when it happened, we knew thousands had died, but many objected to seeing one actual body as it was deemed too disturbing and disrespectful. Seven years on, you can make an action movie parodying the day and no one bats an eyelid. Is that progress or desesitization? I really don't know.

*serious post over. Let's get back to the screaming queens, eh?*

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